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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Ekimov blow hits Armstrong's team
Vyacheslav Ekimov
Ekimov has been a trusted henchman to Armstrong
Former Olympic champion Vyacheslav Ekimov will miss the Tour de France after breaking his collarbone and fracturing his spine in a crash.

The 39-year-old Russian fell during a training ride with Discovery Channel team-mate Lance Armstrong in Texas.

"Doctors told me that it will take two months to recover," said Ekimov, who helped Armstrong win some of his six Tours with the US Postal Service team.

"It's a pity because I really wanted to ride with Armstrong in his last Tour."

Ekimov, from St Petersburg, first won Olympic gold in the team pursuit for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Games.

He went on to prevail in the individual time trial at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, before finishing second to American Tyler Hamilton in the same event in 2004.

"It would have been my 15th Tour and I wanted to equal the record for most starts in that race," said Ekimov.

"But when you have a spinal injury it must be taken seriously."

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